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November 13, 1987 - Image 54

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-11-13

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Mark and Darlene Ephraim
take great pride in announcing
the opening of our new store

Religions Are Reaching
Juncture In America


Staff Writer


For The Unique in Floral Design

Wednesday, November 18, 1987

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West Bloomfield, MI 48322
(313) 851-9244





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Our Everyday
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Mon.-Fri. 10-9; Sat. 10-6; Sun. 12-5


FRIDAY, NOV. 13, 1987

wo messages predomi-

nated at the second
annual interfaith con-
ference held on Oct. 28:
Jewish, Catholic and Muslim
keynote speakers each em-
phasized that members of his
faith were present at the
founding of the United States;
and each stressed his belief
that his religion is now facing
a critical juncture in the
United States.
Speaking at the day-long
symposium, "Respect and
Reconciliation Among the
Abrahamic Religions" held at
Marygrove College, were:
Rabbi A. James Rudin, na-
tional director of inter-
religious affairs for the
American Jewish Committee;
Rev. John T. Pawlikowski, pro-
fessor of ethics at the Catholic
Theological Union in
Chicago; and Imam Alauddin
Shabazz, national director of
the Muslim Community of
America's department of
prison services.
"It ig important to unders-
tand that Jews are not
newcomers in America or
here by sufferance," Rabbi
Rudin told more than 100
listeners at the morning ses-
sion, "Being Muslim, Chris-
tian and Jewish in America."
Although the Founding
Fathers of the U.S. were all
white, all male and from a
Christian background, "this
is neither a Muslim, Chris-
tian or Jewish nation," he
asserted. Few legal
disabilities have been placed
upon American Jews, even
during the less tolerant ear-
ly history of the U.S. Jews
were present at the creation
of the country, he said. The
first immigrants arrived at
what is now New York City in
The voluntary nature of af-
filiation in America has
presented Jews with a
challenge, Rabbi Rudin con-
tinued. "Some Jews opted out
completely. Other Jews said,
`Let us express our
Jewishness in as many ways
as possible.' " He cited as ex-
amples of Jewish diversity
the Yiddishist, Bundist and
secularist movements.
Today, though, "the Bun-
dists and Yiddishists are
gone. Judaism is primarily
located in a religious milieu."
Judaism in America is ex-
periencing a "Thermidorian
reaction," he said. Where
once Jews wanted to shed "as
much Jewish baggage as
possible," many Jews are now

beginning to realize that be-
ing Jewish is an authentic
part of the American
mainstream. Consequently,
there is an "explosion of
Jewish studies, a turning to
Jewish sources" and the
phenomenon of "Jews-by-
choice who are coming into
the community," plus the rise
of the Orthodox community
and Jewish special interest
The recent stock market
crash may have ushered in a
"critical moment of American
life," he warned. The
economic pie in America,

"Many Arabs will
say, 'If you don't
accept Muhammad
and Allah, you'll
burn. This is
indoctrination." 8

which has grown steadily for
two generations, benefiting
Jews among others, may
become static or grow smaller.
For Catholics, the turning
point may come through the
realization of their strength
and potential clout in
American life, said Rev.
Pawlikowski, who elected to
speak only on the Catholic ex-
perience because he judged
the Christian experience in
America to be a topic too
broad to address in only a few
minutes. "Some say that we
had to work with others in
the past to accomplish our
agenda because we couldn't
do it alone. Now, some say
there needs to be a new
Catholic assertiveness."
Catholic participation in in-
terreligious coalitions was
largely responsible for "the
social legislation which
transformed this nation," he
The Catholic presence in
the U.S. — which Rev.
Pawlikowski traced back to
the creation of the nation (a
Catholic from Maryland sign-
ed the Declaration of In-
dependence) — was "a
positive experience," for his
coreligionists, as was U.S.
Catholicism's "appropriation
of the American democratic
Unlike Europe, where the
Church regarded liberal,
democratic values as a fun-
damental threat, in the U.S.
these values have been "view-
ed as an ally for the im-
plementation of Catholicism."
These differing responses
led to cleavage in the Church

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